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In charge of Knitting in
The Textile School
of the City of New York

Author of articles on
Knitting in Textile World

New York
334 Fourth Avenue

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who has encouraged and assisted me,
this book is affectionately dedicated

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When the City of New York established a textile school in 1919 I was
asked to take charge of the class in knitting. Although very busy in
manufacturing lines, I decided to give up a part of my time to this
educational work, believing it to be my duty to do my bit toward helping
to fill a long felt want in the industry.

There being no suitable text book available, particularly on the
elementary subjects, I was obliged to prepare my own material for the
instruction of the students. The results of this work are contained in
this volume, which is devoted to the various types of flat latch needle
machines. It is my intention to follow this with other volumes covering
circular latch needle machines, spring needle machines, etc., with their

The various chapters of this work have been published in the knitting
technical section of TEXTILE WORLD but I believe their usefulness will
be increased by this revision and publication in more convenient book

One of the greatest needs for the advancement of the knitting industry
to the position it should occupy in the world of textiles is available
technical information, and it is hoped that this volume with the ones to
follow will supply, in some degree, this need.


Woodhaven, L. I., New York,
September 1, 1921.

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I. Development of the Industry How Cloth is 9
Constructed—Study of Loop.

II. Latch Needle Knitting Making Jersey 16
Cloth on the Lamb Type of Machine.

III. Rib Fabric Group How Stitch is Made for 26
Different Cloths.

IV. The Rack Stitch Making Shaped 35
Collars—Opportunities in Designing

V. The Double Lock Flat Machine How 44
Different Stitches Are Formed.

VI. Fashioned Goods 51

VII. Automatic Flat Latch Needle Machines 57
Single Lock.

VIII. Automatic Widening Machine Explanation 78
of Mechanism Used.

IX. Purl Stitch, or Links and Links Machine 86
For Hand or Manual Power.

X. Designs on Plain Purl Stitch Machines 97
Automatic Jacquard Type—Details of
Jacquard-Designing on Jacquard

XI. Flat Latch Needle Automatic Narrowing 113

XII. The Flat Jacquard Machine How It Differs 129
From the Purl Stitch Jacquard
Machine—Type of Fabric
Produced—Methods of Needle
Selection—Difference Between Single
Jacquard and Double
Jacquard—Explanation of Design and
Pattern Cards.


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MACHINE knitting is a much older industry than most people realize, the
first knitting machine having been invented in England about the year
1590. In spite of this early start the knitting industry has not made as
great progress as some other lines of manufacturing. The great obstacle
to its progress, in comparison with that of its rival, the weaving
industry, appears to have been the slow realization by people in
general, and the producers of knitted goods in particular, of the
possibilities of the looped fabric and the diversified uses to which it
is suited.

For 250 years or more after the invention of the knitting machine,
knitted fabrics were in a general way supposed to be fit only for
hosiery. Then some enterprising knitter woke up to the fact that knitted
fabric was the ideal fabric for underclothing to be worn next to the
body, and there was developed a great industry in knitted underwear.

In very recent years, we have begun to realize that this fabric is
suitable for outer garments of various kinds, making up into beautiful,
comfortable and serviceable articles of apparel, and the industry is
surging ahead by leaps and bounds on this line. The principal reasons
for this are: first, the making of knit fabric does not require, in its
present state of development, the technical skill required for the
making of woven fabrics, notwithstanding the fact that many people not
connected with the industry look upon machine knitting as a most
mysterious operation; second, the initial investment for a given
production is not nearly so great as for woven fabrics; third, knitted
fabrics can be produced, yard for yard, or pound for pound, cheaper than
woven fabrics.

Knit Fabric Construction

Knitting is the art of constructing fabric or cloth with knitting
needles by an interlocking of loops. The essential element of knitting
is the loop, for the whole fabric is constructed from a succession of

A loop is a very small length of thread, or yarn, taken at some point at
a distance from the end and drawn through, or around, some object,
usually another loop. Obviously this will result in two loops. One of
these coils around the instrument or needle which draws it through and
is called the needle loop, shown by the letter _a_ in Fig. 1. The other
loops around the object or previous loop through which it was drawn, and
is called the sinker loop, indicated by _b_, _b_ in Fig. 1. These two
loops, not two complete loops, but rather one full needle loop and two
halves of the sinker loop, make a stitch, as indicated by the shaded
portion of Fig. 1 from _c_ to _c_.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Sinker Loop, Needle Loop and Stitch.]

A course is any number of loops lying side by side in a line crosswise
of the fabric, as indicated along dotted lines _a_, _a_, Figs. 2 and 3.

A wale is any number of loops in a line succeeding one another
lengthwise of the fabric, as indicated along dotted lines _b_, _b_,
Figs. 2 and 3.

Crosswise of the fabric is the direction in which the yarn feeds while
the fabric is in the process of construction, forming loops adjoining
one another, or the same direction as the course. Lengthwise of the
fabric is the direction in which the fabric is built up by drawing one
loop through another, or the same direction as the wale. Therefore the
width of the fabric is restricted by the number of loops or needles used
as a base, while the length of the fabric has no restrictions other than
the supply of material or the will of the knitter. Rib is an alternative
expression for wale, but is applicable more particularly where the
fabric has a wale on both sides, in which case it is shown as a rib
fabric. Where a cloth has a wale on one side only it is known as a
jersey fabric, and is also sometimes called flat goods. Rib fabrics will
be taken up later for it is my purpose to deal only with jersey or flat
fabrics until the theory of knitting is thoroughly explained.

[Illustration: Fig. 2. Wale and Course, Face.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Wale and Course, Back.]

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A Study of the Loop

A study of the loop is very important to those who wish to acquire a
knowledge of knitting, for the whole construction of the knitted fabric
is from loops. In fact, knitted fabric is commonly referred to as looped

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Fig. 5. Fig. 6. Formation of Loops.]

Fig. 4 shows the position or form into which the yarn is drawn to form
the loops of a plain jersey or flat fabric. Fig. 5 shows a second course
of loops drawn through the first. Fig. 6 shows a third course. It is
quite evident that in order to draw each of these courses of loops
through the preceding one there must be something to sustain or hold the
preceding course of loops as well as the new loops during the period in
which the new ones are being drawn through. There must also be something
on which to start the first row or course of loops for, as stated
before, a loop cannot be made without something of stability to draw it

It is very important that the reader get firmly fixed in his mind the
curves of the loops and the most simple methods of forming them, as he
can then more readily understand the necessary movements made on a
machine. For this reason I will first take up the most primitive method
of knitting; i.e., hand knitting.

Simplest Method of Forming Loops

The needles used for hand knitting are straight rods of steel, wood,
bone or celluloid. Not less than two of these needles must be used as
indicated in Figs. 7, 8 and 9. To start we take the yarn and make a
small slip knot or noose, with which we are all familiar, slip one
needle through the loop thus made and draw the yarn up so that it fits
around the needle loosely.

[Illustration: Fig. 7. Forming Loops by Hand, First Step.]

[Illustration: Fig. 8. Forming Loops by Hand, Second Step.]

[Illustration: Fig. 9. Forming Loops by Hand, Completed.]

We now have the cornerstone laid. Holding this needle in the left hand
with the fore-finger bearing lightly on the loop, we take the other
needle in the right hand and slip it through the loop as in Fig. 7, next
draw the yarn over the end of the right hand needle as shown, then draw
this needle back to the point where it will pass the left side of the
loop on the right hand needle, but not far enough to allow the yarn that
was placed over the end to drop off. Then we draw this yarn through as
indicated in Fig. 8, and we will have the second loop.

At this point in the building up of the fabric we would slip the
previous loop off the left hand needle and let it hang on the newly
formed loop on the right hand needle, as in Fig. 9, but as we are not as
yet building, but only laying the foundation, we slip this new loop back
on the left hand needle, where we now have two loops. The next step is
to take the right hand needle, slip it through the second loop, and
proceed as with the first, then slip the third loop back on the left
hand needle. This procedure is repeated until there are sufficient loops
to make the fabric the width wanted. We now have our foundation on which
to build.

Figs, 7, 8 and 9 give a very clear illustration of the method of
building up the knit fabric by hand knitting after the first course. It
should be noted, however, that after the right hand needle has completed
the new course, and the last loop has been dropped off the left hand
needle, the right hand needle with its full number of loops is shifted
to the left hand and the empty needle then becomes the working needle in
the right hand.

This first course of stitches, it should be noted, has the needle loop
only, the sinker loop being tied in to form a base or edge from which to
start. Fig. 7 shows the first position to form the loops with two
needles. One full course is on the needle lettered _a_, while needle _b_
is thrust through the first loop of the last course and receiving yarn
to draw through a new loop.

Fig. 8 shows the new loop drawn through, while Fig. 9 shows the old or
preceding loop cast off from needle _a_ and hanging from the new loop on
needle _b_.

[Illustration: Fig. 10. Crochet Stitch, Catching Thread.]

[Illustration: Fig. 11. Crochet Stitch, Drawing Stitch.]

Figs. 10 and 11 show the crochet stitch, which is taken up at this point
to show its similarity to the knitted loop and to explain the points of
difference. The illustrations show very plainly the method of forming
crochet loops and they also show that this stitch is simply a single
chain or wale of loops succeeding one another.

When crochet work is to be made into a fabric, the hooked needle is
pushed through the side of another loop at the point at which it is to
be joined, and the new loop is drawn through this old loop as well as
the one on the needle. There is never more than one loop used at a time
in making this work.

[Illustration: Back - _Fig. 12._ Face - _Fig. 13._ Jersey Fabric.]

In the knitted fabric the loops are laid side by side and there are a
sufficient number of loops being used at all times to make the width of
fabric desired. The wales are bound together by the yarn passing from
one loop to the next adjoining one, thereby forming the sinker loops
which have already been explained.

Figs. 12 and 13 are photographic reproductions of a piece of closely
knitted jersey or flat goods. The stitch formation in this cloth is
exactly the same as shown in the line drawings at Figs. 2 and 3.

It may be well to state here in passing, that all textile fibres have
more or less flexibility or resiliency, and while this characteristic is
infinitely small in any single fibre or hair, it is quite appreciable
when there are hundreds of fibres grouped together and twisted into a
yarn. This is the reason for the elasticity or stretch in knitted

It will be noticed in Fig. 2 that in forming the loops the curvature or
bend of the thread is gradual and uniform. When this yarn is knitted
into fabric and both top or needle loop, and bottom or sinker loop are
attached to or drawn through other and like loops, and we pull or
stretch the fabric, we draw sharp curves or corners in the yarn where it
passes around the preceding and succeeding loops. When we let go or take
the strain off the fabric, the natural tendency of the fibre to
straighten out or take an easier curve brings the fabric back into its
original position.

I would suggest that the reader take any straight piece of yarn, worsted
if available, form a loop, and hold it between the thumb and finger of
one hand, then press the loop together with the thumb and finger of the
other hand and demonstrate for himself this characteristic of textile

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ALTHOUGH what is known as the spring beard needle was a part of the
original invention of the knitting machine, and was in use more than 200
years before the latch needle was invented, I am taking up the latch
needle machine first for two reasons. First, because the latch needle
type of machine is most largely used and is more popular in this country
today than any other type; and second, because I believe it can be more
easily understood by a person who is not familiar with machine knitting.

[Illustration: Fig. 14. Latch Needles.]

In machine knitting of every kind there must be a needle for every loop,
and therein lies the fundamental difference between machine and hand
knitting. Latch needles, however, are constructed entirely different
from the straight plain hand needles. Fig. 14 shows the construction of
the latch needle. It will be noted by looking at the latches on the
three needles that they swing freely on a pin or rivet lengthwise of the
needle, but have no movement sidewise.

Types of Latch Needle

The hook, latch, rivet, cheek, throat and stem are substantially the
same except in size in all latch needles, but the balance of the needle
may and does vary in shape to a marked degree in the various types and
makes of machines. Fig. 15 shows many of the different types of butts
and shanks made, as well as the variation in the sizes of the hooks and
the thickness of the needles, but it should be understood that the type
of the butt and shank has no bearing on the size of the hook and stem,
as each type is made in the various sizes and is governed only by the
size of the yarn to be used.

Fig. 16 is a very important illustration and the reader should study it
well and mentally digest every position of the needles, for here is
shown a complete cycle of the movements necessary to make the knitted
loop on a latch needle machine of the type in which the needles slide
back and forth, lengthwise of the needle, in what are called tricks, or
more commonly expressed, slots. Probably 95 per cent. or more of the
latch needle machines in use today are of the type in which the needle
slides back and forth in slots in the operation of forming the loops.

[Illustration: Fig. 15. Some of the Various Types of Latch Needles.]

Explanation of Lamb Type Machine

A study of Fig. 16 should be made in connection with the photographic
reproductions, Figs. 17 and 18. Fig. 18 shows substantially the whole
knitting machine, while Fig. 17 is a close-up view of that part of the
machine which actually does the knitting. Fig. 16 shows the principle
used to operate the needles.

This type of machine was invented in 1863 by Isaac W. Lamb, a clergyman,
and was made possible only by the invention of the latch needle in
England about 1847. It is very simple in construction in the plain
models and is the most versatile of all the knitting machines, it being
possible to make on it a larger variety of stitches and articles of
apparel than on any other machine. It is known as the flat or Lamb type
of machine.

It has two flat or straight horizontal plates or beds about one-half
inch thick by 6 inches wide, the length of which varies from 6 inches or
less to 60 inches or more, according to the width of fabric it is
designed to make. These plates are set in a frame, parallel to each
other lengthwise, and at an angle of about 90 degrees to each other and
45 degrees to the horizontal. See Figs. 16, 17 and 20.

All flat machines of this type have two needle plates, but for our
purpose of knitting jersey fabric we need but one, therefore we will
imagine that there are two in Fig. 16 but the back one having no needles
in it cannot do any knitting. The needles, as will be noted in Fig. 16,
are placed in tricks or slots of which there may be any number from 2½
up to 18 in one inch, according to the size of the yarn to be used. The
needles should fit in the slots close enough so that they will not have
any chance to tip sidewise, yet they must move easily endwise. The gib
_c_, _c_, is for holding the needles in the plate, and of course is
removed by drawing out endwise when a needle is to be put in or taken
out of the plate. The plate is secured in a frame indicated by the
letter _n_ in Fig. 16, and the frame is attached to a stationary stand
or table.

The cams _a_-1, _a_-2 and _a_-3 are attached to the carriage _b_, _b_,
_b_, _b_, Fig, 17, at a point just below _a_-1, _a_-2 and _a_-3 and the
carriage, together with the cams, rests and slides freely back and forth
on the ways _c_, _c_, while the plate and needles remain stationary. The
cams are secured to the carriage in a position so that they come very
close to the needle plates. They should be set as close as possible and
not rub the plate as they are moved back and forth.

It may be well to explain here that a cam in any machine is a piece of
hardened steel of the proper shape and construction to cause some other
part of the machine to make the proper movements to perform its
functions. In this instance they actuate the needles by coming in
contact with the butts.

It will be noted that each one of the needles from _e_ to _e_, Fig. 16,
has a loop in the hook except from the point where they are rising over
the cam _a_-3, and on these the loops rest on the shank. It should be
understood that the fabric back of the needle plate has a weight on it,
thereby giving to each loop a downward pull. The fabric and weights may
be seen in Fig. 18.

[Illustration: Fig. 16. Principle Used to Form Loops on a Machine.]

Now bear in mind that the cams _a_-1, _a_-2 and _a_-3, Fig. 16, are
attached to the carriage _b_, _b_, _b_, _b_, Fig. 17, at points
underneath _a_-1, _a_-2 and _a_-3. These cams are moving from right to
left and as the lower left hand corner of _a_-3 is below the line of the
butts of the needles from _e_ to _e_, they, the needles, must of
necessity slide upward in the slots along the edge of this cam. When
they get to the top it will be noted that the latches of the needles are
above and clear of the loops. As the cams move farther along, the cam
_a_-2 comes in contact with the butts and slides them down again. As the
needles move downward the hooks catch the thread _i_ which lies in their
path, and as at _l_ the stitch that is on the needle closes the latch as
the needle slides downward. As the needle moves farther down the hook
draws a new loop through the old one, while the latch closing up the
hook allows the old loop to slip over the end (needle _m_), and the pull
of the fabric draws it down on to the new loop.

[Illustration: Fig. 17. Top Side of Carriage, Over Cams.]

The thin portions of the needle plate indicated by the letter _h_ in
Fig. 16, which extend upwards, are called jacks and these hold that part
of the stitch called sinker loops while the needle is drawing through
the new needle loop.

Below each needle is a U-shaped spring, _j_, _j_, and _k_, _k_, Fig. 16,
which holds the needles up in the working position. They extend down to
and around the bottom of the plate and up against the under side of the
plate. The end that is under the plate is a little longer than the end
that slides up in the slot below the needle. These U-springs are made so
that before they are put in their places on the plate, the ends come
together, so when they are spread and pushed on to the plate they act as
a clamp to hold the needles in position. They are not attached to the
needles, but simply clamp the plate with tension enough to hold them up
or down, as the case may be, and the bottom end of the needles rests on
them. This construction leaves the knitter in a position to pull d own
out of working position as many needles as he may wish, therefore he may
make his fabric any desired width by pulling needles down out of the
working line or pushing them up into the working line, thereby adding to
or taking away stitches.

The letter _d_ in Fig. 17 designates the yarn carrier through which the
yarn passes, and which guides the yarn along the path of the hooks of
the needles. After having moved the carriage clear across the working
needles, and finishing a course of loops, the carriage is moved back in
the opposite direction and another course is put on. This is done in
exactly the same way except that the cams must necessarily push or slide
the needles up and down on the opposite sides of the cams: i.e., the
butts slide up on the right hand side of the V-cam or cam _a_-3 in Fig.
16 and down the right hand side of cam _a_-1, or stitch cam. This

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